How to Choose a Hydration Pack

RW Staff

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#1
Whether you are going out for a long run or preparing for an ultra-marathon, a hydration vest is a handy way to keep all your essentials with you. However, finding the perfect pack can be challenging. To help you, our staff created a guide that will make your search a little easier.

Check it out here.

Have you used a hydration pack before? If so, what is your go-to brand? Comment below and share your thoughts!
 
#2
I have not used a hydration vest before, so thank you for writing that guide. Is there any reason not to choose an insulated bladder? The price and weight differences seem small.
 

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#3
I have not used a hydration vest before, so thank you for writing that guide. Is there any reason not to choose an insulated bladder? The price and weight differences seem small.
We are so happy to hear you enjoyed our guide! Insulated bladders are a fantastic option, especially for those hotter days. Typically the vest you purchase comes with either bottles or a bladder. So the main reason most people don't get an insulated bladder is to not have to spend the extra money. But if someone is in the market for a bladder for their vest, I usually recommend the insulated ones. Especially if it's hot, and they want to keep your fluids cold as long as possible.

Has there been a hydration pack that has stood out to you?

Tyler
RW Staff
 
#4
Has there been a hydration pack that has stood out to you?
I'm considering the UltrAspire Alpha 4.0 (which doesn't come with a bladder, I know). I'm trying to find the best way to carry my own liquid for marathons, so I don't need a lot of volume to pack gear into. I've experimented with a lot of different waist belt solutions. The last thing I tried was the UltrAspire Speedgoat (the previous, blue version), and it let me carry more than a liter, but getting the bottles back into their holsters while running at race speed was still a bit of a hassle. Do you have any suggestions?
 
#5
I agree with the points described in the article and would add the following:

Item/pocket location: make sure the vest or pack has pockets where you want them for various items you use, particularly snacks and your phone. If you like to have your phone up front, does the vest have a dedicated pocket that fits your phone without losing a pocket that would hold a water bottle? Or a convenient little pocket to hold trash.

The Ultraspire Alpha 4 has been my favorite vest so far. It has a dedicated phone pocket that is easy to reach, the bottle pockets are spacious and can hold various brands of shorter wider soft flasks and bottles, and the horizontal pole storage in the back is very convenient for on the move access. It can still hold a bladder if needed, with room for items like a wind jacket, head lamp, filter, etc.
 

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#6
I'm considering the UltrAspire Alpha 4.0 (which doesn't come with a bladder, I know). I'm trying to find the best way to carry my own liquid for marathons, so I don't need a lot of volume to pack gear into. I've experimented with a lot of different waist belt solutions. The last thing I tried was the UltrAspire Speedgoat (the previous, blue version), and it let me carry more than a liter, but getting the bottles back into their holsters while running at race speed was still a bit of a hassle. Do you have any suggestions?
@ehanneken waist belts can be pretty tricky to run with. I personally stopped running with them for the same reason you described. I found myself having to slow down so I can put the bottles back. @tempeh_tantrum made a great recommendation with the UltrAspire Alpha 4.0. It has room for a bladder and a decent amount of storage. Alternatively, the Nathan QuickStart 4L Vest is another great entry vest. It won't have as much storage, but can hold a bladder and a few other things. I hope this helped!

Tyler
RW Staff
 
#7
Are there any running bottles that strap to your hand with a pouch large enough to hold a larger phone? I've only found a few like this, but most of them don't hold anything larger than an iPhone 8, and I'd like to start taking my phone (pixel 3xl) with me. I don't want to strap my phone to arm with an arm band.
 

RW Admin

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#8
Hi @flan,

I have a Samsung Galaxy note 9 (with a case), and it fits into an older version of this handheld. From what I've read, the Pixel is slightly smaller than the Note 9. So, it should work for your needs. I will note the fit isn't perfect, but the light grey area of the pouch stretches. I'm able to pull that material over the phone then zip it up. I'm happy to send along an image to show you if you'd like.
I hope this helps.


Justin
RW Staff
 
#10
Just wanted to point out a rookie mistake that I recently made in buying my first hydration belt in order to highlight one of the factors you discussed in your article. Fluid capacity is REALLY important (duh)!

I bought my first hydration option (NathanTrailMix Plus Hydration Belt) because I was entirely focused on form-factor. I wanted a belt and not a vest because I usually run shirtless in the summer and who wants a vest tan...? Unfortunately that belt only has a capacity of 20 ounces and, with the heat being what it is now, this begins to become a problem on most runs over 10 miles. I can usually ration those 20 ounces on runs up to 15 miles but I really dislike stopping while working out (to tie a shoe, stretch, etc...) and pulling over for a pit stop to fill back up is like torture for me.

Apart from the capacity this belt has performed very well. It comfortably holds an iPhone X with wired headphones plugged in and some cliffblocks. The belt is comfortable and that is even true at race pace. I recently ran a half time trial in just a little over 1:30 and there was only minimal jiggle - nothing I would complain about.

As the temperature drops (and so too fluid-intake requirements) I think this belt will do the trick but if I could do it all again I would look for something in the neighborhood of at least 1L for a summer hydration option. The Ultrapire Speed Goat looks like a good choice because, as the article mentions, better to bring more than you need!
 

RW Admin

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#11
Just wanted to point out a rookie mistake that I recently made in buying my first hydration belt in order to highlight one of the factors you discussed in your article. Fluid capacity is REALLY important (duh)!

I bought my first hydration option (NathanTrailMix Plus Hydration Belt) because I was entirely focused on form-factor. I wanted a belt and not a vest because I usually run shirtless in the summer and who wants a vest tan...? Unfortunately that belt only has a capacity of 20 ounces and, with the heat being what it is now, this begins to become a problem on most runs over 10 miles. I can usually ration those 20 ounces on runs up to 15 miles but I really dislike stopping while working out (to tie a shoe, stretch, etc...) and pulling over for a pit stop to fill back up is like torture for me.

Apart from the capacity this belt has performed very well. It comfortably holds an iPhone X with wired headphones plugged in and some cliffblocks. The belt is comfortable and that is even true at race pace. I recently ran a half time trial in just a little over 1:30 and there was only minimal jiggle - nothing I would complain about.

As the temperature drops (and so too fluid-intake requirements) I think this belt will do the trick but if I could do it all again I would look for something in the neighborhood of at least 1L for a summer hydration option. The Ultrapire Speed Goat looks like a good choice because, as the article mentions, better to bring more than you need!
Thanks for sharing, @imnothammer.

I actually had a similar issue a few years ago. I was getting ready for the 50k and running a lot shirtless. As my miles added up, I started needing more water. Ultimately, I ended up using two larger handhelds or a vest (depending on the temp and distance) because I couldn't quite find a belt that I liked (worth noting that I used the older versions of these. I haven't run in the new UD vests). Granted, belts have come a long way since 2016! I'd probably try the UD belt since I've got a UD pack I really like.

Justin
RW Staff
 
#12
Used to run with a Camelbak pack, but switched to a hydration vest this year because I love the flexibility -- I can run with one or two soft bottles up front, add a bladder to the back if I need it (with average a.m. temps at first light around 80 degrees, I often need it!), plus carry a phone, energy chews and a few other odds and ends if necessary. I like the UD Vesta race version.
 
#13
Anyone have experience run commuting with some vests? I am torn between vest and straight up pack but leaning towards a vest because they seem a bit more flexible and comfortable.
 

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#14
@SpeedSlug Before the pandemic, there were a lot of people here who would run commute to work here. There are some good vest/pack hybrids that you may like. One I used a lot is the Ultimate Direction FastPack 25. It offered the breathability of a vest, but the pack carries enough to hold everything I need for work for the day. If that is too big, it also comes in a 15-liter option. These packs do a great job of carrying a lot and minimizing the bounce.

If that looks like it might be too much, I am also a big fan of the Ultimate Direction Mountain Vest 5.0.

The best way to decide will be to assess what you will need to carry with you and how much space you will need to carry it.

Tyler
RW Staff
 
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